LOCS reviews strategic plan progress

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
 LAKE ORION — The Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education heard about the district’s progress and further objectives for year two of its strategic plan during the board meeting on Nov. 29.
In April 2022, the school board approved the new strategic plan to guide the district through 2027. Since then, the district has held several progress update meetings on the work they have done during the first year and last reviewed its progress at a meeting on Aug. 9 just before the start of the school year.
In the strategic plan, Lake Orion focuses on five main areas: Academics and Programs, Communications and Community Engagement, Operations, Learning Environment and Culture, and Personnel and Leadership.
1. Academics and Programs
Goal Statement: “Lake Orion Community Schools will increase opportunities and flexibility for all Dragons.”
This focus area includes: scheduling, curriculum, enrichment, world skills and technology
a) Scheduling
LOCS has continued to provide information to students on different scheduling and program opportunities at the high school.
The district’s online lab for Dragon Virtual, dual enrolled, EMC and blended students currently houses 15-20 students on average per day.
Additionally, a parent university was held to explain college credit options for high school students and credit recovery is now being offered during the school year.
b) Curriculum
The Sexual Education Advisory Council met on Dec. 5 and its chairperson has been attending regular meetings county-wide.
The second of three sections of the district’s math pilot has started and will be complete in January. The Board of Education is expected to receive a presentation on the pilot programs in February.
Several members of staff have received training in things like educlimber and Math 180.
The parent teacher conference committees have sent out parent surveys and the committee is expected to meet again this month.
c) Enrichment
LOCS has continued to gauge interest from students and staff on what activities could be offered and what staff would be interested in running clubs or events based on building surveys.
d) World Skills
The Board of Education has approved two international trips; one to London, Paris and Normandy in June and another for the LOHS band and choir to England and Ireland in March.
e) Technology
The district meets quarterly with All Covered about technology and training sessions have been done on Augmentative Assistive Communication (AAC) and assistive technology.
2. Communication and Community Engagement
Goal Statement: “Lake Orion Community Schools will enhance district communications and increase community engagement in schools.”
This focus area includes: adult enrichment and community connections
a) Adult Enrichment
The district received 495 responses from parents regarding classes they would like to see offered to adults including painting, cooking, knitting, ASL, ceramics and cardio drumming.
Youth activities parents are interested in are art, chess and lego classes as well as a nature club and parent/student yoga.
Some potential special events include mother/daughter and father/son events.
b) Community Connections
LOCS has had their introductory meeting with Project Search and has explored and is implementing the Care Solace Partnership which is expected to launch in January.
Additionally, Ascension Providence Hospital has been added to Dragon Community Champions.
3. Operations
Goal Statement: “Lake Orion Community Schools will maintain and enhance operations and facilities.”
This focus area includes: general fund operating millage, sinking fund millage, alternative revenue sources, manage district bond projects and future bond projects.
a) General Fund Operating millage and Sinking Fund millage
LOCS has set the election date for both the general fund millage and sinking fund millage for February 24, 2024. Administration has continued to have planning and strategy meetings and related communications are ongoing with stakeholders.
Group presentations are being scheduled and research is being conducted on past elections.
b) Alternative Revenue Sources
The current count for Shared Time Services full time employees is at 344.
The Clarkston Road cell tower project was set to begin late last month, LOHS cell tower contract negotiations are ongoing and the sale of a parcel of land by Blanche Sims was set to close on Dec. 1.
d) Manage District Bond Projects
Financial oversight of the bond program is ongoing as is the series 2 bond project budget to the actual reconciliation process.
e) Future Bond Projects
Next year, Oakview and Waldon Middle Schools will be remodeled and have additional sitework.
In 2025, Paint Creek Elementary will have their renovation and work on the CERC building will take place as will construction at Lake Orion High School along with the football stadium.
If funds are available in 2026, they will have work done to the administration building and Moose Tree Center.
4. Learning Environment and Culture
Goal Statement: “Lake Orion Community Schools will provide a learning environment where all students and staff feel safe, supported, honored and respected.”
This focus area includes individualized instruction. SEL, DEI, learning environment, professional development, mental health.
a) Individualized Instruction
In October, Lake Orion High School provided an initial Multi Tiered Support System presentation to staff, while the middle school MTSS is still in progress of being revamped. The district has also held compliance training and additional para training.
Beginning of the year data was shared with the school board in October.
Superintendent Ben Kirby has started work on plans to create a high school Student Superintendent Advisory group.
b) SEL (Social Emotional Learning)
SAEBRS and MySAEBRS data was presented in October and the protocol has been developed and implemented for SAEBRS.
c) DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)
The district has conducted a staff survey regarding DEI. The area of focus this year is on disabilities.
d) Learning Environment
An attendance protocol has been implemented and is being monitored.
The No Vape November Parent University was held on Nov. 15 and a presentation on bullying for elementary families in October.
Student classroom surveys are expected to be administered in January and the library has continued to provide homework support resources to families.
e) Professional Development
LOCS is continuing professional development as planned.
f) Mental Health
The Wellbeing Committee is planning for MLK Day along with professional development through the district’s teaching and learning department.
LOCS also held its annual fall fitness challenge.
Information is continuing to be shared regarding the Employee Assistance Program and the Wellbeing committee continues to meet monthly.
5. Personnel and Leadership
Goal Statement: “Lake Orion Community Schools will attract, retain and value exceptional staff.”
This focus area includes recruitment, negotiations, staff recognition and leadership development.
a) Recruitment
LOCS is participating in Talent Together as a host site and has continued its partnership with Oakland University, also participating in the university’s elementary education seminar.
A committee has been formed to review the district’s interview protocols and procedures.
b) Negotiations
Contract maintenance meetings have been held with all employee bargaining groups.
Additionally, the district received notification that AFSCME local Council 25 was placed in a receivership by its international union. What that means going forward is unclear.
c) Staff Recognition
The Distinguished Dragon program has been implemented and communicated to all buildings.
A recognition calendar has been placed on the staff portal and years of service pins have been created.
The district has also developed an Ancillary Staff of the Year program and has begun planning an end of the year retirement celebration.
d) Leadership Development
Staff and administration were surveyed to gauge interest in future leadership positions and opportunities.
The district has developed an initial school administrator leadership cohort with the first one set to begin in late winter or early spring.
For more information about the district’s strategic plan visit the district website at lakeorionschools.org/district/strategic-plan.

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